Choosing Peace: The Path From Conflict to Love
By Tasha Friedman
Let’s begin with a bold statement: all people can exist in peace and harmony, loving and supporting each other.
Although the state of the world makes it seem unlikely, the Heart tells a different story.
Under the surface, all human beings are seeking peace and love, and at our core, we are peace and love itself. The more we are aware of our true nature, the easier we can move through life expressing this harmony.
So the answer to many of our conflicts and struggles on every scale is not about proving one side right and the other wrong, but learning to approach each other from that truth of our being, from that love that brings healing to everything it touches.
Falling in Love through Silence
Meditation is about falling in love.
You can fall in love with a blade of grass or the night sky, with a friend, a lover, or a person you meet on the bus. You can fall in love with your breath, with the bliss that runs through the channels of your body, with the joy that lives silent and unchanging within your heart.
In silence, love reaches out to embrace the entire manifestation.
Silence is the space through which love flows in unending waves. Silence is how love speaks, how love recognizes itself and draws itself into itself.
Nothing is judged or measured in this love. Like the sun, it shines equally on all things.
The human heart, one in nature with the Infinite, has this capacity to radiate unconditional love. Yet we can also cut ourselves off from it by applying limits and conditions to that boundless ocean: to love only people who are similar to us, or who treat us well, or who love us in return.
When even one tiny form is excluded, love becomes only a personal expression, and its divine nature is concealed.
If even one aspect is denied, it is no longer unconditional love.
What aspects of yourself have you cut off from the flow of love? What expressions have you decided are unworthy?
And what about others? How do you decide which people to allow into your sphere of love and acceptance?
To love someone is to invite them into your inner space, which can feel very vulnerable. No matter how tough and spiky we appear on the outside, we all contain an inner world that is very soft and sensitive. Opening this domain to another being might feel like creating a wound in the most tender part of ourselves, but it is that sweet wound that, as Rumi would say, allows the light to enter.
The Logic of the Heart
We all wander through this life with limited understanding, bearing the weight of pain and loss, confined by our patterns and conditioning. To live in peace, we must first acknowledge these very human limitations in ourselves and others and learn to soften through them.
We must learn to let go of our hard edges and our demands on life, to be as fierce in our pursuit of love and forgiveness as we were to our righteousness and self-defense.
Think back to a conflict you had with a loved one—a really bitter argument when you were certain that you were right and that nothing could proceed unless the other person conceded completely.
At the time, it felt very real, and the stakes very high. But looking back with the space of time and maturity, in all honesty, would you really have been satisfied with your friend or partner acknowledging that you were right and they were wrong?
This shallow vindication applies to the logic of the mind but not the Heart.
Underneath any conflict, there is a current of longing for love and connection. There is pain because suddenly, you feel your separateness so clearly. That disharmony makes you realize that you are caught within your ego bubble, bouncing against another person’s ego bubble.
It shakes you out of your complacency. The illusion of understanding through the ego is lost.
So you feel this disconnection, and you can either retreat deeper into your own sphere for protection or step out of the game altogether.
Beyond the external circumstances, what you are both seeking in this conflict is not victory but a deeper connection. You both intuitively feel that something is not clear between you, something is not flowing, and you make an effort to correct it.
The degree to which your effort is strategic and violent rather than peaceful and loving depends on how directly you are willing to address that underlying need.
The First Step Is Compassion
There’s so much freedom in letting yourself lose, letting yourself be wrong, for the sake of love. When you love someone, how could you want to defeat them?
This striving for vindication is only a mental strategy to achieve that peace, that affirmation of your existence, which cannot be grasped or obtained by any action of the mind. Things get so heated only because, on some level, you believe that these basic qualities of the Heart are dependent on the outcome of the situation.
So in any conflict, there is always another option: forget about everything that’s at stake and just look at things as they are. Make peace your priority rather than victory.
“But,” you might object, “what if it’s a just cause? What if the other person is doing something truly harmful?”
Then you are in the same position as Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, and you must walk the same middle path: do what must be done but in the name of peace, friendship, and connection.
Compassion is always the first step, and it is a step outside of yourself. That is, outside of your ego, individual perspective, and interests. In this willingness to see the other person as they are, to see their perspective even if you don’t agree, you are walking the path of peace.
Whatever actions you must take, you will be guided by that wisdom that sees beyond the external appearance of the situation.
Tasha is a Hridaya Yoga teacher and a frequent contributor to our blog. You can read all of her posts here.